Coburg’s Reynard Street has a special place in the hearts of sisters Angie Markou and Chryssie Swarbrick. It’s where they grew up, in a house that first belonged to their grandparents, and now their parents.
Back in the ’90s, Reynard Street was a busy meeting spot filled with vendors, including a fruit and veg shop, milk bar and yarn shop. Over the years, most of these closed, with one exception: an old butcher shop with the words “Macelleria Italiana” printed in bright red block letters on its window facade. The shop had been around for 100 years under different owners. And the two most recent successive owners both happened to be named Frank.
When the butcher was finally up for lease, Markou and Swarbrick, who had always dreamed of having their own place on the strip, jumped to reopen the space as a cafe and general store. As a tribute to the building’s history, they called it Two Franks. It’s across the road – literally within eyeshot – of the house they grew up in.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
“This area was really crying out for a community space,” Swarbrick tells Broadsheet. “[Two Franks] is really bringing this corner alive again … Seeing that happen for the next generation is such a big part of why we wanted to do this. We wanted to give back to the neighbourhood that helped raise us.”
“It’s just got a real family feel,” adds Markou. “We want it to be like our home that people walk into.”
Two Franks serves coffee, pastries and pantry items from Markou and Swarbrick’s favourite suppliers in Coburg and surrounds. At the counter, milk crates are filled with cheesymite croissants and cinnamon twists from Ocab Bakery, and more treats from Back Alley Bakes, Cakehouse Collective and Cobb Lane. Lollies and provisions line the shelves, as well as condiments and pita bread from Seddon’s The Brotherhood Yiros. And at the back – beneath a glowing green “Take me home” sign – is a fridge stocked with St David’s Dairy milk; ready-made meals from Postmistress and Small Axe Deli; and Mediterranean dips, including a spicy feta cheese number lovingly made by Markou and Swarbrick’s father.
There’s also a charming servery window at the front, where you can order Small Batch coffee, house-made chai and hot chocolate.
The space itself – renovated by the sisters with the help of Markou’s husband – is beaming with nostalgia. Inside, there’s a green-and-white chequerboard counter inspired by Reynard Street’s old milk bar and grocery store. Outside, the tiles have been painted to match the green of the olive tree in their parents’ front yard. Inside, successive layers of rendering have been removed to expose the bricks’ original light green paint job. And, of course, the old Italian butcher sign is still there. Markou and Swarbrick still have customers coming in to ask where the butcher is.
Two Franks is currently takeaway only, but there are plans to add seating and a kitchen soon. Once that’s up and running, Markou and Swarbrick will make family-style dishes that celebrate their Greek heritage, using their parents’ and grandparents’ recipes.
Even without this in place, Two Franks has already been welcomed by the community with open arms – and Markou and Swarbrick couldn’t be happier. “Coburg is a part of us,” says Swarbrick. “And now we’re so happy to be a part of Coburg.”
202 Reynard Street, Coburg